Hey there! College can be one of the scariest, but most exciting ventures! Everything changes when you get to college. You may move away from home, your friends, and your family. You leave everything that is your normal life behind. You are now charged with more responsibilities: having a job, getting to classes on time, making good choices without your parents around, when to go to sleep, what to eat, and definitely how to handle your money. If you learn the right way to handle money now while you have little, then you will be much better at it when you graduate and make actual money. Financial discipline is so important in college. Here are my best tips for handling your finances God’s way:
- Realize that it isn’t your money: Nothing on this earth belongs to us. It all belongs to Him. Therefore, our money is His also. When you realize that your money isn’t really yours, it makes it easier to handle it the right way.
- Tithe: This is the most important thing you can do with your money. Tithing is giving 10% of your income back to God by giving it to your church. This is the ONLY area in the Bible where God says to test Him. That means He must be pretty serious about it! Many believers don’t know the power of tithing. It is an act of obedience that God uses to bless you abundantly. You aren’t doing Him any favors my tithing, He doesn’t need your money. He is giving you an opportunity to be infinitely blessed. He is doing you the favor by giving you the opportunity to tithe. Tithing is a great blessing. If you are worried about not being able to afford to give God any of your money, remember that it isn’t really yours. Financial success isn’t about how much of your money you give to God, it’s about how much of God’s money you keep. Don’t block your blessing by stealing from God.
- Give: Giving may seem counterproductive when you’re in a financial rut. I hear you. However, God says that the measure that we give with will be given back to us. This means that if we bless others, we will be blessed. If you are faithful while you have little, then you will be given more. Give where God tells you. If He says to do it, then do it gladly and without hesitation. He gives you opportunities because He wants to multiply your finances. Trust in the God that supplies all of our needs.
- Save: You should be saving a large part of your money after tithing. Put away money for emergencies and for your future. Don’t spend every dollar that comes into your possession.
- Prioritize your expenses: Make a list of expenses: Tithe, savings, emergency fund, bills, food, gas, shopping, fun, etc. Determine which expenses are necessary and which can come at the end after the necessary expenses are paid. Non-essential expenses should be on the budget if there is no money left over after tithing, saving, and paying bills. You will become better at handling your money and you will begin having more money left over each pay period as you become more disciplined.
- Stay away from credit cards: Credit cards are rarely a good idea on a college campus. They can cause you to overspend and get deep into debt. You may already have student loans that you will be paying on for years, so you don’t need this added financial burden. Credit cards allow you to spend way more than you have and can quickly devour your finances. It is best to just avoid them in general.
- Be smart and set goals: Don’t throw away money on things that you don’t need. It is fine to splurge sometimes, but you shouldn’t be making daily trips to the mall. And while you may want a giant fancy coffee every day (my guilty pleasure), it is definitely not in your best interest to make this a daily habit. Make goals to help you stay focused. Make goals for saving. I like to use SMART goals. SMART goals are: specific, measureable, achievable, realistic/relevant, and time-based. When you have goals in mind, you are more likely to handle your finances with care.
- Start investing: You don’t have to start with a lot, but it is always important to prepare for your future. I really love using STASH because it allows you to invest small amounts and add to it whenever you want. My first investment was literally $5. You can get the app right on your phone and monitor your investments. Use the link to get $5 when you start! $5 for STASH
While college can provide you with plenty of temptations to drain your finances, it is possible to be financially fit. You don’t have to throw away all of your money in college. It is possible to have money when you graduate. When you do it God’s way, you will have His blessing.